This week, I’m going to break down the competition for the three available wild-card spots in each conference. I’m going to start Monday in the NFC, where there are 11 teams with at least five wins. Four of those teams are division leaders and not currently part of the wild-card picture, which means that this won’t cover the Saints, Packers, Giants or Rams, who hold the tiebreaker over the Seahawks after beating Seattle in Week 10.
We’re then left with seven teams competing for three wild-card berths. Let’s check out what those teams did Sunday, what has helped (or hurt) them in recent weeks and what they might have to do to over the final four weeks to push into the postseason. We’ll use the ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) as a guide:
FPI chances to make the playoffs: 1.6%
The end of Sunday’s Lions-Bears game felt like the mirror image of the one we saw in Week 1. Then, the Lions blew a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, with the key moment coming when Matthew Stafford threw an interception on third down with 2:45 left to give the Bears a short field. On Sunday, the Bears blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, with Detroit’s chances improving dramatically after Mitchell Trubisky was strip-sacked on third down with 1:54 to hand the Lions the ball on the Chicago 7-yard line. The Lions probably should have won the first game. The Bears probably should have won Sunday. In the end, they each won once.